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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Author Interview with Tracy Garrett

Please help me welcome author Tracy Garrett! I have the pleasure of being in the boxed set Under a Western Sky, and do I have some questions for her!

Tracy Garrett
One thing I noticed right away just reading Texas Gold is that you are really good at writing action. And by that I mean, not only do you write the “action” scenes well, but you write all the small actions taken by your characters in such a way that it paints a very clear picture for the reader, which tells me you also have a clear vision of what’s going on in a scene. Actions such as putting the kettle on or crossing the room blend seamlessly into the narrative. Do you have any tricks that help you?
Tracy: Thank you, Patti! Maybe it’s my training as a flutist, but details matter to me. On this adventure of “writing” I’ve attended many wonderful lectures and workshops and there’s always some nugget of gold to be gleaned. Once I heard a writer say “your character can’t put down the glass if they never picked it up.” I want my readers to feel like they’re right there in the scene. Showing the motions is part of that, as long as I don’t get carried away.

I think I remember you commenting that Texas Gold was your first historical western. Are there other genres you write in? What is it about the historical western that captures your imagination?
Tracy: “Texas Gold” [originally titled “Touch of Texas”] was my first published novel. There’s one I wrote before that, but it won’t see the light of day without some major rewriting. Maybe it’s growing up on television series like “Bonanza” and “Gunsmoke,” but historical westerns have always been my first love. Add to that the stories my grandmother told me of growing up on a wheat ranch in turn-of-the-century North Dakota, complete with buggies and windmills and a Sioux reservation nearby, and I can’t imagine not writing historical westerns.

Your story is so rich in detail. You don’t look over a hundred years old, and yet I feel as a reader that you have personal knowledge of some the items or actions found on the Texas frontier. I almost wondered if you’re a reenactor! What sources do you use for historical accuracy?
Tracy: lol  I’m not quite that old! I enjoy research whether in books, online or visits to museums and pioneer villages. Seeing history in place, so to speak, helps me imagine how things might have been used. For my weapons research, my husband and I took up Cowboy Action Shooting. It’s target shooting in period costume. It isn’t reenacting—we’re not that serious—but we dress in period-correct clothing and shoot period-correct weapons. As Ozark Belle, I shoot two revolvers, an 1873 lever-action rifle and a double-barreled shotgun or coach gun.

Tracy as Ozark Belle Collecting Brass

The more I read about the Texas settlers, the more I’m amazed by the families who managed to hold onto their land into the next generations. They had a lot to contend with. Hence, the Texas Rangers, which is what your hero, Jake, is. What can you tell us about the history of the Rangers? Do you have a family connection to Texas?
Tracy: I’m in awe of the people who left everything familiar to carve out a life in the unknown west. And the Texas Rangers, men who brought their own horse, saddle and weapons, accepted  commission and rode out alone to uphold the law, because it was the right thing to do, are larger than life to me. If you’re ever in Waco, Texas, visit the Texas Ranger Museum. It’s absolutely worth the trip.

What inspired you to write this story?
Tracy: A sentence in an article about gold mining in the Davis Mountains of Texas. It was never profitable, but that didn’t stop people from trying. They still do. I wondered what would bring people to such a remote place? All hardship, no luxuries. Just a dream of hitting it big. Then came two characters who were ostracized from society for different reasons, but that together could create their own “gold.”

Where do you write? Do you have a routine? Any rituals?
Tracy: I write wherever I am when I have time. Usually it’s in my big leather chair overlooking the Lake. No routine, no rituals, unless having a cup of coffee first is a ritual.

Tracy's View as she Writes

Being an author is a strange profession in many ways. Was there that one moment in your career where someone asked you what you do and you said, “I’m a writer” for the first time? In other words, have you always considered yourself a writer, or was there a hurdle or two for you to jump over before you felt you could call yourself that?
Tracy: Writing was never in my life plan. I’m a musician. I hold two degrees in music. Part of my day job now is as a choir conductor. I’ve always been a performer. But one day, bored with my day job, I decided to write down the scene that had been playing over and over in my mind, keeping me awake nights. After that came the next scene and the next, and eventually I had a completed story. [That’s the one that hasn’t seen daylight in years.] Even then I didn’t consider myself a writer. It wasn’t until the teacher of a novel-writing course said “If you write, you’re a writer.” Epiphany! I still have moments where I stumble over introducing myself as a writer, but I’m getting there.

Award-winning author Tracy Garrett has always loved to disappear into the worlds created within the pages of a book. An accomplished musician, Tracy merged her need for creativity, her love of history, and her passion for reading when she began writing western historical romance.  An active member of Romance Writers of America, Tracy now resides in Missouri with her husband and their furry kid, Wrigley.

Available at Amazon

West Texas, Early March, 1890
Whoever said hell was hot had lied. It was cold, bitter cold. Not that he’d live to tell anyone of the discovery. The snow came down sideways, so hard Jake McCain couldn’t see past the end of his horse’s nose. He had no way to tell where he was or where he was going. The icy pellets were like razor sharp knives, flaying his face until he figured he must be bleeding. Lucky for him the cold kept him from feeling much of anything. Death dogged his heels and he couldn’t find the energy to care.
He’d climbed from the saddle an hour ago—or was it only a few minutes—and started walking. He hated using his horse as a windbreak, but the animal’s hide could take the stinging ice longer than his own skin, no matter how many layers of clothes he wore. But Griffin was beginning to tire. If Jake didn’t find shelter soon, they’d find whatever was left of him and his horse at the next thaw.
Jake braced himself against the saddle before lifting his head enough to look around. The vicious wind stole his breath. He could barely force his eyes open against the onslaught. He usually had a good sense of direction and distance, but the blizzard and the vicious beating he’d taken at the hands of the men he was supposed to be arresting made it impossible to be sure of anything. He could be close to the mining town he’d been heading for, or miles from anywhere.
Narrowing his eyes against the blowing snow and ice, he studied the frosted landscape. Something flickered, only for an instant, in the distance. Was it his imagination? With his grip tight on the reins, he started for the spot. Real or not, he’d rather be going somewhere than standing around waiting to freeze to death.
He struggled forward, toward the light, or where he thought it should be. He’d lost sight of it. Jake ducked his head behind Griffin’s neck, squeezed his eyes shut a couple of times and looked again, but it was gone. Had he somehow gotten turned around? Just when he decided he’d been walking in circles, the wind backed off, the snow lessened, and he saw the light again.
He concentrated on each step, putting one foot in front of the other. Griffin stumbled, catching him by surprise and taking them both to the ground. It took all Jake’s will to drag himself to his feet and urge the big horse back up. He buried his battered face against the animal’s furry neck, and trudged on, making for that little flicker of salvation.
The next time he looked up he couldn’t see the light. Must’ve been his imagination after all. He took a step, sinking in a drift. Jake thought of his mother, alone in Abilene. He hoped whoever gave her the news of his death was gentle with it. He dragged his other foot forward. His frozen boot caught on something and he fell face down in the snow. Wooden planks broke his fall instead of rock hard ground. He tried to lift his head, but it took too much effort. Griffin took advantage of the stop to turn his rump to the wind, leaving Jake with no protection from the vicious storm.
Battling against the brutal cold, he dragged himself forward. His head bumped something solid. He pulled himself up until he half sat against a thick wood door, but he didn’t have the strength left to knock. Cursing his weakness, Jake tried to force a hand up. No use. Both lay limp at his sides.
If he’d had the breath, he would have laughed at the cruel joke life had played on him, one of many tossed his way. He’d made it—somewhere—and he was going to die anyway. His mind rebelled at the thought of the bastards finally beating him, but even failing his last assignment couldn’t give him the strength to lift a fist. He closed his eyes and let his head fall back. At least he would be found and buried properly.

You can also find Texas Gold in the collection Under a Western Sky.
Available at Amazon for $0.99!


  1. Great interview. What a wonderful imagination to come up with that gripping scene. Thank you Tracy for being a 'writer' and thank you Patti for letting us know her journey. Doris

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Doris. I've always had an active (read OVERactive) imagination. Just ask my mother. lol

  2. A great interview! Always fun to get to know the behind-the-scenes of a writer.

  3. I love this idea of interviewing, Patti, and so glad you interviewed Tracy! I love learning more about author friends--and I am so glad to know that Tracy and I have one thing in common, for sure--a "first book" that probably will never see the light of day. LOL Does everyone have one of those? LOL

    When I used to teach creative writing classes, one of the exercises we practiced was for students to pretend they were at a social gathering and introduce themselves as a writer or an author. Oh, it was so hard. Some of them just couldn't do it to save their souls. They'd turn red and look down at the floor and on and on. But we did it every time we'd meet for class and finally, by the end of the 6 weeks, (we usually met once or twice a week) they were able to do it.

    I really enjoyed learning more about Tracy and her writing and the "rest of the story"!

    1. That would have been a tough exercise for me, too, Cheryl. lol

  4. So enjoyed this interview. It's nice to see someone else who can sit down over look the lake they live on and write anytime it calls. I loved this story from the very beginning and what a beginning it was. I just had to see what had happened to him to start off this way and then oh my, what would happen next. You do have a wonderful way of bringing a reader right into the scene and believe me I and most likely other writers learn from authors like you to help us improve our writing. So thanks. Wishing you much success with this one again and all upcoming ones. And yes, keep them coming.

    1. Bev, you made me blush. Thank you so much for your kind words!

  5. Tracy,

    I've read Texas Gold, and of all of the excerpts you could have shared, I'm glad you shared this particular one. I felt how cold Jake was. I've been that cold while horseback riding...and lost...and scared that I'd freeze to death and someone would find me with the spring thaw. Awful, ugly cold. You drew me into your story from the beginning, but this one really hit home with your description and Jake's worries about freezing. :-)

    1. Of all the scenes I've written, this is probably my favorite. And you've lived it?! Wow. Thanks for stopping by, Kaye.

  6. Hi Tracy, what a wonderful excerpt--I remember getting caught in a blizzard getting back to my dorm during college, and you clearly brought back the sensations of terror and stinging snowflakes! Well-done! I cannot wait to cuddle up with this book! Patty, great interview, too. xoxoxo

    1. Thanks for persevering to leave a comment, Tanya! Wishing you some peace today--you've earned it.

  7. Thanks for stopping by everyone! I so enjoyed Tracy's answers because I just knew she had some hands on experience the way she is able to put those details into her writing! And I was especially interested to hear her make a connection between being a flutist and a writer. Tanya and Kaye, I also was right in the cold and feeling the danger when I read the excerpt. Thanks again for stopping by!

    1. Patti, your questions made me think. I really enjoyed being your interviewee!

  8. I knew you were an accomplished musician, Tracy, but it was so interesting reading about your other gift, your writing. I envy you being able to write with a view of a lake. How wonderful and inspiring that must be.

    I want to wish you all the best with Texas Gold in the Western Sky Collection.

    1. Thanks, Sarah! The lake is inspiring but it can be distracting, too. lol

  9. I love reading about authors, what makes them "tick" and write a story. The entire time I was reading the excerpt, a song was running in my head....Jim Reeves singing The Blizzard. The way the wind moans in the song, and it's five more miles to MaryAnne....then eventually 100 yards from MaryAnne. I fell in love with that song back in the 60's and love it still and love your description of the hero in the blizzard. Great hook, stopping the exerpt where you did. I'll enjoy reading your book. Great interview, Patti.